Children with Disabilities and How This Situation Affects Their Families

· August 18, 2018

A new family member is always a cause for joy. Everyone prepares to welcome the little one and to congratulate the happy parents. But the truth is this situation is not always as wonderful and perfect as we’d like it to be.

On some occasions, problems or unexpected events come up which we need to face. These problems can affect the family. One of those difficulties is the birth of a child with a disability. Understanding how the news and the birth itself affects the family is essential to better manage the associated challenges. Keep reading to find out more!

“It’s not the disabilities that define you; it’s how you deal with the challenge the disability presents you with.”

– Jim Abbot-

Children with disabilities and their impact on family dynamics

First of all, children with disabilities can influence different members and the relationships formed within the family environment. We should keep in mind that this condition creates different difficulties at different stages in the person’s life cycle. This could lead to rising tensions between the family members.

If these tensions aren’t understood or managed, it’s common for different conflicts to emerge. For instance, the couple can start to become more distant and stop communicating effectively. This could lead to a vicious cycle of discomfort which could be hard to put an end to.


Children with a disability on a wheelchair.

On the other hand, there could be conflicts with the child that has a disability if the parents are overprotective or if their autonomy is restricted. By doing so, you’re not recognizing the other capacities that aren’t affected by the disability and that a greater degree of independence is possible. Likewise, there can be problems between siblings. These problems can occur if the parents assign more responsibilities to the siblings without a disability that just aren’t theirs. The difficult situation can also cause a feeling of shame or denial among the siblings.

But not everything is discomfort and tension. This situation can also influence the family positively. In fact, it can strengthen the family ties, promoting bonding and closeness between family members. In other words, it can enhance everyone’s resilience.

“The challenges in our lives are there to strengthen our character, not to run us over.”

-Nick Vujicic-

Children with disabilities and their impact on social and working environments

Although society continues to advance, many misconceptions regarding people with disabilities still exist today. There’s still rejection. As a consequence, families of children with disabilities tend to isolate themselves. Many of them don’t have a lot of social relationships nor participate in recreational activities.

This can also happen in the workplace. If family members think it won’t be possible to reconcile the new situation with their jobs, they may quit. Although they do this with the family’s best intentions at heart, it can turn into another source of tension. This is due to the fact that it could affect the caretaker’s well-being and economic situation.

“The world worries about disability more than disabled people do.”

Warwick Davis-

Hugging children with disabilitiesChildren with disabilities and their impact on the health of their family members

Everything we’ve talked about so far doesn’t affect family members the same way. As you may imagine, these situations regarding family, society, work, and finances could affect the family’s health. This is specially true for those in charge of caring for the person with a disability.

The excess responsibility of looking after a person with a disability can lead to an emotional burden for these caretakers. It’s normal for emotions like sadness, anger, anxiety, or even guilt over the current situation to arise within the individuals.

But the effects aren’t only on a psychological level. The caretakers could also feel more tired and exhausted than usual, leading to health problems. As we’ve mentioned before, having children with disabilities can come with many difficulties. However, they can be transformed into beneficial situations if we learn how to manage them adequately.